From its earliest days, Christianity has been lived and proclaimed in the language and symbols of each receiving culture. Today, these cultures include the new ethnic groups moving into our parishes. They also include new generations of Catholic young adults, whose childhood experiences of their faith are very different from those of their elders. In Catholic Cultures, Sister Patricia Wittberg, SC, offers a view of Catholicism through the eyes of Catholics from these different cultures, so that we may all be challenged to grow in our reception of the Good News.
This book is an ideal resource for parish ministers, educators, and parents struggling with how to evangelize and minister to unfamiliar cultures. It is also a tool for leaders trying to build a strong community made up of members who represent a variety of ethnic backgrounds and ages.
Patricia Wittberg is a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati and professor of sociology at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. She is the author of Building Strong Church Communities: A Sociological Overview and numerous other books and articles.
Wittberg encourages ministers to think beyond new programs and to be open to the Holy Spirit at work among the people of God. She pulls many challenges together into one concise, insightful book.
Parish staffs and leadership would be wise to study this book and engage in conversation about how best to welcome and embrace all the people who cross your threshholds.
With clear and concise writing, the author demystifies the complex web of culture and religion that characterizes the American Church and illuminates why the variety of ethnic and generational cultures can create a dissonant and polarized ecclesiastic reality. On that foundation, she offers practical and insightful ways for responding to the dissonance and creating a multicultural harmony and communion.
William A. Nordenbrock, CPPS, author of Beyond Accompaniment: Guiding a Fractured Community to Wholeness
This is the best book I've seen on multiculturalism and parishes. Wittberg uses real data and demonstrates understanding and insight. She identifies challenges and offers hope by proposing thoughtful and realistic strategies to help parishes. This is a must read for pastors, lay-ministers, seminarians and students who want to appreciate today's multicultural Catholic Church.
Rev. Anthony J. Pogorelc, PSS, Academic Dean, St. Patrick's Seminary, Menlo Park, California
Finally we have a book a book about parish ministry that doesn't pretend that our parishes have not been radically refigured by immigration, ethnic and racial diversity, and sweeping generational disaffiliation. For too long, parish renewal literature has assumed that cultural and generational differences were only marginal issues in our parishes. Sr. Patricia Wittberg, sociologist and pastoral thinker, rightly identifies these as the central issues of our time. One of the principal strengths of the book is her refusal to underestimate the complexity and challenges of ministry across cultures and generational divides, making use of the sociology of culture to navigate these difficult waters. Another strength is her willingness to look at the ethnic and cultural differences within generational groups.
Brett C. Hoover, Assistant Professor of Theological Studies, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles
An excellent resource for ministry among Catholics in the United States today.
"Sister Patricia Wittberg's new book is essential reading for those who wish to better serve the People of God, and for all those who wish to continue growing as well informed Catholics. Wittberg brings both a rich history of what each culture has brought to Catholicism in times past as well as a modern day awareness of how efforts can be made to see the Church through many different cultural lenses today. Her insightful research illustrates how we can all evolve from a mere tolerance of our differences to becoming enriched by the beauty that each culture brings to our common heritage of faith. I highly recommend this enlightening work to Catholics of all generations, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds."
Stephen Fichter, CARA Research Associate and co-author of Same Call Different Men: The Evolution of The Priesthood since Vatican II
The two major themes of Catholic Cultures match exactly the two most trenchant concerns in parishes-shifting ethnic configurations and generational changes among parishioners. Through the lens of culture, Patricia Wittberg briefly traces the history of ethnic groups in the US and explains the current situation. Her cogent description of how generational relationships affect parish life is accompanied by suggestions of "welcoming practices" designed to incorporate Catholic Millennials. The author offers parish leaders hope and encouragement as they seek to respond to evolving parish contexts.
Katarina Schuth, OSF, author of Seminary Formation: Recent History-Current Circumstances-New Directions